Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pick Your Pain

James Lileks and I share an affliction.

A quiet evening at home with only the dull silent roar of my back molar to interrupt the heart-salving balm of domestic joy. I think that was the problem with the chap in the Munch painting, “The Scream.” Had nothing to do with the condition of modern man confronting the challenges of modernity, and the attendant disruption of old social norms and the rise of an atomized sense of individuality lost in the screaming sea of urban life, adrift from the anchorages – God, King, Country – where once Man found shelter. Dude just had a toothache.

My tooth trouble isn't nearly that intense, just ongoing. It had a large cavity, which I had filled last November, I believe. At the end of January a mysterious crunchy material appeared in my mouth, and the tooth began stinging occasionally. Nothing terrible, just annoying. A trip to the dentist determined that the filling was still OK, but the tooth was falling apart around it. The dentist attempted reconstruction, which seemed OK for about two days before the mild ache reappeared. Again, it's not a large inconvenience, so I don't feel the need or have the funds to run back again. Further deterioration may change that.

James also recalled his days as a high school debater.

There were certain types of speeches about the subject du jour – if the resolution concerned energy conservation, and you were neg, you’d go shale, or deep-water drilling, or nukes, or a combination of all available options. As soon as you said “Nuclear power” the other team would roll out the boilerplate, and with a bad team they’d throw everything at the walk without addressing your specifics. First neg would make a speech he or she had made before, but it wasn’t necessarily a rebuttal of what you’d said. Second affirmative would rebut the salient points; second neg would crow over all the things they’d said you hadn’t rebutted.

Something tells me we called those splatter-shot arguments “spamming.”

It seems to me to be a fair description of typical political discourse in this country. I prefer the toothache.

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